Single Cup Coffee Makers –Terms Defined

k-cup coffeemakerThis handy mini-glossary applies to a majority at least, of single cup coffee maker units in terms of operation, accessories, and maintenance or upkeep.

Brew Holder Assembly: The inner chamber that houses the brew holder, that houses the K-cups. Some people prefer to use refillable K-cups from time to time, in which this assembly holder is removed to accommodate it.

Carafe: (pronounced like “giraffe”) The storage container people are referring to when they call it a “coffee pot”. Coffee carafes can be glass, plastic/poly blends, or thermal. Glass carafes are great because you can see how much is in them; however they do have a tendency to permit overheating if left on the base for too long. Thermal carafes are preferred the most as they retain heat for longer periods.

Carousel: An attractive-looking storage unit for K-cup selections, they vaguely resemble a “Lazy Susan”, usually having a chrome appearance, and hold varying amounts of K-cups with ring-shaped openings. Although used a great deal, storage drawers are catching on too.

Descaling: The procedure of performing a brewing cycle using a premixed cleansing substance, or a mixture of water and white vinegar, to remove mineral buildup from the coffee maker’s interior. This process must be done on a periodic basis to ensure good performance.

Entry/Exit needle: The slanted, sharp points on the inside of your coffeemaker’s coffee pod chamber, responsible for piercing the top and bottom of the pod to allow the flow of water and extraction to take place.

K-Cup: The bread and butter of your beverage, K-cups are sometimes interchangeably used with the term “pods” (and as a matter of fact sometime in 2015 Keurig classified them on the packaging as “K-cup pods”) These 2-inch high cups are made with a filter (fused to the inside) and coffee grounds, and are sealed for freshness. Although Keurig is the major player to which the name is credited, many brands use the term K-cup as the design is universal, pretty much.

My K-Cup: Also known as refillable or reusable k-cups, a “my k-cup” is a mini filter the same size as the K-cups, made to be filled with your own coffee grounds and used repeatedly. They are used to supplement or replace the prefilled K-cups, as a cost-effective or more eco-friendly alternative. They are known by various brand names, but the overall design is the same.

Pods: The individual coffee ground pack used for brewing one cup at a time. The term “pods” is often used by people regardless of the packaging of the coffee serving, so it’s a universally accepted term used, regardless of cups, sachets, discs, etc.

Purge: The process of draining the coffeemaker’s internal water tank. As you cannot just take your coffeemaker and turn it upside down as you would the reservoir …this is an important step in the event your coffeemaker has been unused for awhile. Water buildup can lead to bacterial growth and other problems you don’t want it you plan on storing your unit, are packing it to send to a new location, etc.

Reservoir: The transparent (usually) chamber of the coffeemaker that contains the water. Reservoirs come in many capacity sizes, many can be removed to make refilling easier and some are even backlit or illuminated.

Reverse Osmosis: A technological process using cross-flow filtering to remove contaminants from a water supply. How does this relate to coffee makers, you may ask? Water quality is a common issue with coffee brewing and the RO process in regard to its suitability for coffeemakers, is debated.

Water filter: An optional attachment (in some units, included) that can be used inside your brewer to maintain water purity, improve taste, remove chlorine, etc. They use cartridges, which contain charcoal, and resemble oval-shaped sachets. Periodically, the cartridges will need to be changed to keep its performance optimal.

Water softness: The degree to which minerals are absent or present in one’s water supply. Water comprised of a great deal of mineral content is referred to as “hard water”. Mineral buildup can interfere with a coffeemaker’s performance over time. Water conditioners can treat this problem, but in the use of coffee makers, it is not advisable as the sodium ions present in softened water will block the extraction process.


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